Friday

9th Dec 2016

Brussels keen to redirect €82bn for jobs and growth

  • Springs buds: talk in Brussels is switching emphasis from austerity to growth (Photo: mcarruth)

The EU commission wants to redirect €82bn worth of structural funds to projects aimed at boosting employment and growth, particularly in bailed-out countries, measures seen as both vague and inadequate by critics.

Anticipating a demand from Monday's EU summit to redeploy as yet unspent structural funds for employment-related projects, the EU commission on Friday (27 January) announced its intention to work with member states on redistributing €82 billion.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Speaking at a press conference with the Belgian premier, commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said: "What we can do is to redeploy structural funds, as long as member states agree, because this is always a partnership between the commission and member states."

He gave the example of Italy, whose recently appointed technocrat government asked for a "reprogramming" of funds to the tune of €3.1bn for education, broadband and railway investments in the country's poorer southern regions.

"Now we would like to do the same with programme countries where there is high youth unemployment," Barroso said.

A similar programme has been agreed with Greece as well, where projects worth €11.5bn should help build motorways, schools and energy efficiency in housing, commission spokesman Ton Van Lierop told this website. The task force of EU commission experts deployed to the country last year with the aim of assisting the government with its structural reforms required by the EU and IMF will "help" in implementing these new priorities, he added.

In Romania and Bulgaria, the EU's newest members and where structural funds go largely unspent year by year, the governments have accepted to have EU experts help them with the drafting and checking of the EU's notoriously bureaucratic project requirements.

But experts are sceptical that this new strategy will have any impact on the forecast recession in most member states.

"It's not enough money to really make a difference. If it was €82bn for research or in fiscal deductions for small and medium enterprises, maybe it would," says Diego Valiante, an economist with the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank.

Instead of doing more of the same - letting member states select all sorts of "bridges to nowhere" and other irrelevant projects, the EU commission should link structural funds with labour market reforms needed in most member states, he said.

But Valiante also conceded that under the current budget - which ends in 2013 - there is little room for manoeuvre for both the commission and member states. "This one is finished, we will have to wait for the next multi-annual budget to revamp the rules," he said.

EU public lacks voice on banking laws

The complexity of financial laws and lack of NGO resources means the “man in the street” has little say on EU banking regulation, the EU Commission has warned.

News in Brief

  1. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  2. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  3. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  4. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  5. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  6. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  7. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe
  8. French ex-minister jailed for tax fraud

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to use Bioenergy Coming from Forests in a Sustainable Way ?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First